THOMAS O’Ware believes Hibernian boss Neil Lennon made referee Nick Walsh’s job more difficult on Wednesday night after overreacting to Kudus Oyenuga’s challenge on Jordon Forster.
Lennon’s reaction to the tackle sparked a mass brawl involving Jim Duffy and players from both sides as the goalless draw at Easter Road exploded during the final few minutes of the match.
Lennon insisted after the game that Oyenuga’s behaviour was ‘disgraceful’, and branded him a ‘coward’ after, according to Lennon, the striker ‘feigned injury’ to get Hibs captain Darren McGregor sent off.
And while O’Ware admits Oyenuga’s challenge was reckless, the situation wasn’t helped by the Hibs boss’s furious outburst towards the striker that kicked off the melee.
He told the Tele: “It was a bad challenge from Kudus and nobody is hiding from that.
“But the reaction went overboard, there’s no need to get up in players’ faces or rushing on to the park. Let the referee deal with it.
“It’s different if it’s just players going in, that’s fine because it’s always going to happen. There was no reason for Neil Lennon to do what he did.
“The job is difficult enough for the ref having 22 players going at it and there’s no need for managers to get involved.
“Especially to keep going and going, Lennon wouldn’t stop.”
The stand-in skipper for the evening is adamant his side more than merited their point from the game after stifling the firepower on show from the home side for 90 minutes.
The defender says he would have taken the point away to the league leaders before kick-off — especially after admitting Ton ‘let themselves down’ on Saturday during the 1-0 defeat at home to Dunfermline Athletic.
He continued: “I thought overall we deserved the point on Wednesday. I thought our shape was good and we’ve created a few chances.
“Gats [Derek Gaston] hasn’t really had any saves to make.
“We let ourselves down a bit on Saturday, so it was important for me and Ricki to get off to a good start. Obviously Lee went off injured, but I thought Ricki and I did well.
“It didn’t start promisingly when they hit the post in the first minute but I think we defended our box well.
“We won our headers and the two of us looked very comfortable I thought.
“I was happy with the draw, although a wee bit gutted not to sneak all three points as we acquitted ourselves so well.”
Asked if the brawl at the end was perhaps a sign of pressure on the home side rearing its head, O’Ware replied: “We don’t care what Hibs have done this year, we’re focused on ourselves and trying to get as many points on the board as we can. Everyone knows they’ll probably end up winning the league, but the style and the way they do that is up to them.”